Heritage lovers from across Ayrshire and beyond are invited to attend Unlocking the Tower, a Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP) event at Ayr’s St John’s Tower with family-friendly activities, re-enactments and tours celebrating the tower’s heritage.
At this free, all-day event on Saturday 6 May 10am to 4pm, members of the public are welcome to join SUP and the Friends of St John’s Tower to explore the tower’s history. This will involve a range of activities for all ages, from historic graffiti to treasure hunts, from laser scanning to virtual reality.
The Tower – the oldest building in Ayr – is the surviving fragment of the original 12th century parish church and has a unique and fascinating history. Oliver Cromwell constructed a fort on the site in the 1650s, and the church was commandeered as a store, mill house and chapel with the tower as an armoury and look-out. The church was pulled down in 1726 but the tower was retained as a navigation beacon.
Chiara Ronchini, Project Manager with SUP said: “Unlocking the Tower is a rare opportunity for everyone to visit the tower, which is not usually open to the public. Through the diverse programme of activities on the day people will be able to unlock the fascinating secrets of the tower. I would like to thank South Ayrshire Council who manage the tower and the grounds for making the event possible.’’
A spokesperson for the Friends of St John’s Tower added: ‘We are delighted Scotland’s Urban Past will be holding Unlocking the Tower. Lots of interesting activities are planned and we are sure it will be a great event.”
Jill Cronin, Head of Enterprise, Development and Leisure at South Ayrshire Council, said: ‘The tower is an iconic building and the perfect setting for an event which celebrates Ayr’s medieval roots. In the interest of preservation, we don’t open the tower all that often so this is a golden opportunity to explore the grounds and the tower which has dominated Ayr’s skyline for centuries.’
The event will be held at the tower itself, St John’s Tower in Ayr. Entrance to the tower is on Bruce Crescent, opposite Citadel Place.
SUP is a nationwide community engagement project led by Historic Environment Scotland and Heritage Lottery funded, providing free training, support and resources to people of all ages to help them discover and share the fascinating stories of Scotland’s towns and cities. We use our wide range of resources to help groups create projects from maps to films to comic books to oral history.
Unlocking the Tower – What’s On
Join us throughout the day for...
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Photography
  • Storytelling
  • Stone Rubbing + Grave Markers
  • Historical Graffiti
  • Laser Scanning
  • Tower Tours
  • Period Costumes
  • Soap Carving
  • Virtual Reality
  • Tale of a Scottish Tower: Meet the Author
...and more!

About The Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK www.hlf.org.uk 

About Scotland's Urban Past

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (HHA), a year that will celebrate Scotland’s people, our distinct culture and traditions, our historic landscapes, attractions and icons as well as our hidden gems and amazing stories. From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, 2017 is the year to explore Scotland’s fascinating past. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and a variety of partners.

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